Tsukune Dango is the next recipe in the list of typical Japanese New Year food’s that I am sharing (after the Kouhaku Namasu and the Sekihan)! Tsukune Dango are little meatballs made from chicken mince and a few other ingredients that are topped with a tasty teriyaki sauce and served on a skewer. They’re a classic New Year’s celebration food that Japanese people make to eat as part of a big New Year’s feast. But they don’t have to be just a New Year’s dish, they make a great healthy, protein-packed lunch as well!
In Japan you can buy tsukune (the chicken meatball) from special Yakitori restaurants so they are usually cooked yakitori-style, which means they’re grilled over coal and coated with delicious yakitori sauce. You can also buy them from grocery stores but they’re usually cold and don’t taste as good as the hot, freshly grilled ones you can get from the restaurants. The chicken thigh yakitori are the most delicious to me so I always have to order those but the tsukune are yummy too and my daughter prefers them because she hates chicken thigh.
You don’t have to serve the tsukune dango on skewers like I did; I just chose to do that because I was trying to style it the way that they do in Yakitori restaurants plus it makes it much easier to eat. Since they’re on skewers, it also makes it much better when serving at a New Year’s celebration party (or any party really) because everyone can just grab a skewer rather than picking up the little meatballs with their grotty hands.
These Tsukune Dango are easy to make and easy to eat, plus they taste delicious, so they make a great dish for any occasion! I hope you enjoy making them and stay tuned for more Japanese New Year specialty dishes!
- 500 g chicken mince
- 1/2 an onion finely chopped
- 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sake
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp water
- Sesame seeds to sprinkle/garnish
Finely chop the onion and set aside.
Put all the ingredients (aside from the sauce ingredients) into a large bowl and mix together very well using your hands.
Shape little meatballs using your hands and place on a plate.
Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat and add the meatballs to the pan.
Cook until both sides are browned and mince is cooked through.
Once the meatballs are finished cooking, transfer them to a plate.
Mix all the sauce ingredients together in the same sauce pan that the chicken meatballs were just removed from and cook over medium heat.
Once the sauce has started to simmer, add the meatballs back in and coat the sauce all over.
Remove the meatballs from the heat and serve on a skewer or a plate with some sprinkled sesame seeds.